Read full article by Paula Gardner (MLive)
“OSCODA, MI – This community on Michigan’s Lake Huron shoreline looks like a recreational paradise.
But everyone who lives here has heard the warnings: They can’t eat fish from a branch of the Au Sable River. They can’t eat venison from deer harvested from nearby, either. They shouldn’t touch the foam while swimming or boating on Van Etten Lake.
And many of them can’t drink water from their home wells.
On Wednesday, September 11, a group of them spoke out about the cause: Nine years of PFAS contamination making its way from the closed Wurtsmith Air Force Base.
They’re calling on the U.S. Air Force for action – and they were joined by other community activists from across the state who also confront the toxic per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals making their way into drinking water and the environment.
‘Despite those warnings and despite the passage of nearly a decade, the Air Force has no timeline’ for a full clean-up, said attorney Tony Spaniola, who has a family home on Van Etten Lake.
‘We’re here today to say “enough”.’
Spaniola started a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, just a few hours before the Air Force was scheduled to meet with the community’s Restoration Advisory Board to chart the future of the base that was closed in the 1990s…
Spaniola was joined by representatives from other areas affected by PFAS contamination. The goal was to show unity among affected areas, particularly since the sources vary. Some are due to military use of fire-fighting foam; others are due to industrial discharges. Landfills – which accept both consumer and industrial products – also are sources of the toxins.
‘We are speaking as one,’ said Arthur Woodson of Flint.
Among the speakers was Sandy Wynn-Stelt from Belmont, whose home is on House Street, across the street from Wolverine Worldwide’s former dump site. The company is following directives from the state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to still determine the extent of contamination. In the meantime, hundreds of homes are using temporary replacement water systems…
‘This is a national security issue,’ said Monica Lewis-Patrick of We The People Of Detroit, describing a situation when the government can’t guarantee clean drinking water. She joined a later presentation by phone.
It’s also a state issue, Spaniola said. Oscoda is the location that prompted a 93-page report in 2012 detailing the threat of PFAS to Michigan – a report that sat unheeded in state offices for years.
Today, the state is pursuing maximum contaminant levels for PFAS, Spaniola said that’s an important step for Michigan, but he’s looking for a ‘serious culture shift’ in Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy bureaucracy to further residents’ needs in regards to water issues.
EGLE will be meeting with Oscoda residents later this week.
‘We need to see EGLE become advocates for us and not to be pushed over by the Air Force,’ Spaniola said.”